I thought it was time for another update on activities, as it looks like a couple things have firmed up or fallen out since my last post.
Cato Levee Structure
Although things looked like they were gaining momentum and moving forward at the Cato Levee, it was short-lived and activity has once again ground to a halt. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working with its contractor to resolve the issue. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that it will be quickly resolved.
What are the immediate implications for Duck Creek? Like last year, we will not be able to take water from the Castor River when it gets up later in the winter. Water recharge in Pool 1 will have to come from local run-off from Brushy and Slagel Creeks. Therefore, the amount of water that can be pulled out of Pool 1 to flood Pools 2 and 3 will have to be conservative until we get some local rains. This is similar to the situation we were in last year.
Last year LRDD cleaned out Ditch 106 on the south side of Pool 2. They also cleaned out Ditch 111, north of Duck Creek and eastward past the Hwy 51 double box culvert. Also, last fall we removed vegetation along some of the ditch banks so we could have access to some of the other ditches that hadn’t been cleaned out in awhile.
As you probably have noticed if you’ve been on the area in the past year, this work tore up the roads quite a bit. We realize this is an inconvenience and ask for your patience. We would fix them now, except there is more work to be done in these areas. In the next year we are working with LRDD to follow up and clean Ditch 105 (east side of Pool 1), Ditch 104 (north of Pool 2), and Ditch 1/111 (west side of Pool 1), and the first mile of Ditch 111 (from Cato Levee and south of HWY C Structure). Once this work is done the ditch banks will be dressed up and the roads will be repaired.
What are the immediate implications for Duck Creek? The gates around Pools 2 and 3 are closed for the time being because the roads are in disrepair. This fall, bow hunting will be allowed within these pools; however, you may have to walk a little farther than usual.
HWY C Structure
The culvert at Highway C will be replaced this fall as we collaborate with MODOT. This work is slated to begin and end in October and will require a detour using the surrounding gravel roads. We’ve communicated the importance of a swift project completion to MODOT, as there will be an influx of pre-dawn traffic come November. We all realize that handling a detour at 3:30 a.m. on the way to the waterfowl draw is not on anyone’s to-do list. We’ll try to prevent this from happening.
What are the immediate implications for Duck Creek? At this point, local traffic along Highway C will be diverted during October as MODOT replaces the culvert.
New Scopes of Work
All right, let’s get to some better news. Some of you may have noticed that at last month’s MDC Commission meeting a construction contract was approved for work at Duck Creek. So what does it involve and when will it start? We will be putting in three structures with this contract. Work will begin this month.
Ditch 1/111 Structure
The bridge/structure on the west side of Pool 1 that goes over Ditch 1/111 and leads to Unit A will be replaced. The new structure will be wider and will not have a middle support beam. It will have an Obermeyer gate, which will lay down flat along the bottom of the ditch when not in operation. These different characteristics will allow us to reduce the amount of sediment and debris that currently build up at this location during flood events. This new structure will allow us to manage the water levels in the ditch better and reduce the amount of maintenance currently required to clean out the debris after every large rain event.
What are the immediate implications for Duck Creek? The pre-construction meeting was Aug. 11. The contractors will be moving their equipment in shortly and start work on Aug. 16. Access to Unit A will be rerouted using Z Highway. The contractors are motivated as they realize that the ditch will not always be as low as it is today.
Pool 3 Spillways
On the east side of Pool 3 there is an existing spillway that provides flood relief for Kinder when Ditch 105 gets up. Pool 3 takes on water during these events and functions as flood water storage. In previous posts we’ve told you that timing and duration of flooding in bottomland hardwood forests are important to the health and recruitment of the timber and its associated resources. Additionally, we’ve highlighted the importance of understanding how topography influences flooding. With the current water control structures it takes quite a while to drain Pool 3. To take care of the timber for the future, it is just as important to be able to get the water off of the trees as it is to get the water on them.
We will be replacing the existing spillway on the east side of Pool 3 and adding an additional one on the west side. We used the topography from the lidar dataset and flow analysis to identify the drainage pattern to strategically place this second spillway. In the future when Ditch 105 gets up, we will be able to pulse water through the timber and let water drain from the trees into Ditch 1 in a much more efficient manner. This will do several things for us. First, it will maintain our flood relief capacity for those in the Kinder area. Secondly, it will allow us to still manage the water for waterfowl hunting in Pool 3. Thirdly, it will benefit the forest health by allowing us to reduce the negative effects of extended flooding during the growing season.
What are the immediate implications for Duck Creek? Once the contractors finish with the Ditch 1/111 structure, they will move on to the Pool 3 spillways. The work will limit the amount of flooding, and therefore waterfowl hunting, that will be allowed in Pool 3 during construction.
We’ve got several projects moving forward. Granted, not everything has moved a quickly as we had hoped, but that is reality. However, the work that we are doing will help deliver water, maintain our drainage network in the future and provide flood relief to our neighbors. Having this foundation is important to Duck Creek and the future of its users. Thank you again for being patient and interested. We'll continue to keep you informed of what is going on the area and try to address your questions and concerns.